Gators Hope to Bounce Back

Head coach Billy Donovan has challenged his team this week to move on. Practice was centered on learning from the mistakes of the South Carolina loss. However, with those practices in the books, the Gators now have a chance to bounce back at Auburn on Thursday night at 7 p.m.

"We need to come out and play well," Billy Donovan said. "It's not even about the result. You can come out and win a game but not play well. We've had that happen before. In the league we're in now, if you don't play with enough intensity, you won't win."

If an SEC team needs an opponent to bounce back against, Auburn is the one. The Tigers are 7-10 on the season and 0-3 in SEC play. Those three conference losses have come by an average of almost 17 points per game. The Gators have also won 12 of the last 13 meetings in the series.

Despite the statistics being in Florida's favor, Donovan won't let his team settle. Thankfully for the head coach, college basketball scores of the past few weeks won't let it happen. Auburn beat Florida State in their final non-conference game, and the Seminoles beat then-No. 1 ranked Duke last week.

"Every competitive challenge is totally different," Donovan said. "You have a perfect example this past Sunday. New England beat the Jets (45-3 earlier in the season)- so how can the game Sunday happen? It's a new game, it's a new day, it's a new set of circumstances. You try to play as consistently or as close to your potential or ability."

The message got through to the Florida players. Any SEC team with good athletes is capable of putting it together for one big game, and the Gators must keep Auburn from doing that on Thursday night.

"Anything can happen on any day," junior point guard Erving Walker said. "We lost to Jacksonville. Competition changes daily, so we're just focusing on being the best team. It's Auburn, but we're not necessarily competing against them. We're competing against ourselves to make sure we're the best we can be."

Auburn has one player who averages double figures- sophomore guard Earnest Ross. He is averaging 12.4 points and also leads the team with 6.9 rebounds a game. Sophomore forward Rob Chubb is the only other starter who averages more than six points, coming in at 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.

The statistics don't scare the opposition. However, they have the potential to put together a perfect game and play up to the level of their competition.

"I have as much respect for Tony Barbee and the coaching job he's done at Auburn up to this point," Donovan said. "A lot of times when you lose and go through injuries they've gone through, you can see guys feeling sorry for themselves. It says a lot about those kids being young and excited about playing. I watch them on tape and they play as hard as they can. We're going to need to go in there and play with great effort, and I hope we would after coming off this game to South Carolina."

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